What would a united democratic Korea be like?

And here I am calling myself a China hand… Ignorance fought!

Korea has an Unification Ministry, not to mention a very popular slogan is essentially “Our wish is unification”.

Yes, but I’d expect America to help keep Korea free.

That depends on various factors.

Of course, invasion of national territory no matter how minor justifies war.

And if there is such thing as just war, defence of national territory is it. Its not like I’m saying we should take back Manchuria or anything.

You mean under a fascistic dictatorship/

I’m gonna use this one quote as a metonym for your whole post, and do this by the numbers.

  1. If the South Koreans were serious about unification, then they’d elect someone who would give it to them. Lee Myong-bak’s Unification Ministry does not exactly command a big price tag - Yonhap says that the U.M. got 1 trillion won in 2011, as compared to the 309 trillion won for the whole central government. That is literally a drop in a bucket.

We can talk about how there’s an upper limit on how much the U.M. can accomplish no matter how much money it has, but LMB has stated from Day 1 that he wants to get harsh on North Korea. He has never made a secret about his intent to roll back the Sunshine Policy. To return to the beginning - if the South Koreans were as serious about unification as IAGTU you believe they are, then they could have elected Chung Dong-young.


  1. America help keep Korea free? This is a loaded statement. Korea is free. ROK is one of the most prosperous and free countries on Earth, and not even the red might of China can force the DPRK to come to a negotiating table is the WPK’s tops don’t want it to. The relationship between the DPRK and its neighbors - all 3 of them, yes - is simply not our problem, except as it destabilizes our lovely ally the ROK and our less-than-lovely pseudo-ally the PRC.

If there’s a war between China and the DPRK tomorrow - which is basically a metaphysical impossibility - then I rely on my unconscious aggregation of factoids to tell me that America would half-heartedly follow South Korea’s tempo, and the South Koreans wouldn’t care. There are already Koreans living in China - a couple million of them, actually, and they seem to be doing fine.

Besides, if we parked the 7th Fleet in the Yellow Sea, there’s a nonzero possibility that it’d never come back again, depending on whose side we took. I certainly don’t want to be on the deck of the George Washington when the sky lights up with DF-21s. Hey, it’s their admiral who said that the purpose of the Navy is not to fight…

In fact, I could almost see a PRC/ROK Moebius Double Reacharound coming to pass on the DPRK - there’s a lot that the Chinese stand to gain from such an arrangement, especially if it resulted in a total American pullout - and it may be a chance to show off the J-20 or some other piece of ratshit Chinese hardware, to say nothing of some innocuous looking customs union thing that will end up being worth trillions in 10 years. Well, I could almost see it.

  1. There has never been a better time to be Zhuang, or to be Chinese. I’ll play a game with you, QSH - if you could choose any year in history, from 4000 AD to the present day, and play a lottery where you could be born as any Chinese born that year, from the lowest peasant farmer to the Emperor, which year would you choose? The CPC is the most benign government to ever rule the Middle Kingdom.

  2. Korea was once not one kingdom but 3, and by the sword did Taejo create it. If by the sword his descendant lose it, then the world remains as just as ever it was. There is nothing magical about Koreans - every group of human beings has the groups that constitute it and the larger family to which it belongs.

Yeah, that’s very impressive and patriotic, but I don’t expect the Chinese would treat the North Koreans any worse than the Kim family, and I’m disinclined to give the Kims a pass just because they happen to be native. It’s very easy to call for the Yalu to run red with someone else’s blood, but don’t pretend it’s for a noble purpose.

Nitpick: You mean lordship. X never has “vassalage” over Y.

Read my post again:

If you think the Unification Ministry is largely staffed by the younger generation or that it’s largely politically supported by them, I’ve got a bridge you might be interested in.
Your replies sound like those a Korean-American would make. They’re largely American in philosophy but directed towards an idealized version of a foreign “fatherland”. I do understand, as it’s similar to the emotional response of my cousins, my brother, and me.

The difference is that I realize my emotional response is more an attempt to put Korean affairs in American cultural terms, rather than the response a 30s-something Korean living in Seoul would have.

Sure, but on this one, Qin actually has a smallish point. The separate cultural groups have largely been culturally and politically unified (if at swordpoint) for at least 1000 years.

OTOH, a North/South divide is nothing new.

I think you misspelled “communist.”

However you say it, commenting in cold blood that you’d sniff and hand off those people to China to be ruled is one of the more disgusting things one could say. It seems that all Koreans generally want to be unified. The southern ones simply don’t want to cut their own throat doing it.

That’s hardly an unreasonable stance, and suggesting that the still-tyrannical Chinese would be good simply because it was better than the current regime is a weak argument. For one, the Chinese are dicks, and don’t seem to want to deal with North Korea, or Koreans in general for that matter.

I live in South Korea and every Korean I have discussed this with regards unification as not only inevitable, but as something that will happen in his or her lifetime.

How will it happen without wrecking the South’s economy? It’ll be a strain no matter what, but if the border is simply opened, many North Koreans will walk across it and find relatives in the South to take them in and acclimate them. The North will, in about ten years, provide an investment opportunity for someone in the South to expand into. The concept of private ownership will take a while to get used to, but the North has endured worse.

Whenever the first step is taken, things will suck incrementally less in the North than they do now. It’s a slow process, but it will happen.

Well, on the assumption that some major economic power is going to eventually absorb and modernize North Korea (and that the current North Korean regime is utterly worthless and will be discarded in the process, leaving a complete power vacuum to be filled by whatever replaces it), it looks like the choices are:

-South Korea, who could bankrupt themselves trying but have the advantage of linguistic and cultural connection with the North Koreans

-China, who could pay for it more easily (or at least not destroy themselves in the process) but will be unable or unwilling to assimilate the population

-Somebody else, though the list of potential candidates is short and their chances at best highly remote
Heck, since I have absolutely no influence at all over the outcome, I see no reason not to speculate on the situation like it was some large-scale version of Risk or Diplomacy, a game someone else is playing and which I observe from a distance for academic interest only. I may as well throw out suggestions like North Korea be divided into administrative regions (perhaps along existing provincial lines) and be divided up and run piecemeal by the South Koreans and Chinese, with some regions overseen by U.N. peacekeepers in the short term, making the process gradual enough that South Korea isn’t bankrupted and China won’t feel threatened.

My opinion on this matter is very humble indeed, but consider the following:

South Korea has modernized extremely rapidly. They were as poor as the North after the war, and now are one of the strongest world economies. Something about Korean culture and society (or maybe the specific conditions in the South after the war) lent itself to rapid modernization and economic prosperity. There is no particular reason to think a liberalized north wouldn’t be able to do something similar.

The North wouldn’t be able to vote for their “familiar leaders” as a previous post suggested, because certainly anyone associated with the government in the North would be ineligible for elected office.

A huge influx of cheap labor is exactly what the government would need to modernize infrastructure in the north. There would be a huge need for very basic, untrained work bringing the north up to par economically. It would take decades to do and cost a lot of money, but it would be worth it in the long run, and probably even the short run too, as Korean companies made money from the government contracts.

Can you imagine how many international businesses would want to invest in a country with all those educated people and all that cheap labor? I can see a reasonable scenario in which Korea’s economy starts to rival Japan’s within 2 or 3 decades.

Very encouraging, Mosier - thanks. I hope you’re right.

Do we know how well-educated the North Korean labour pool is, though? The East Germans were literate and reasonably science- and tech-savvy, but the regime they lived under was relatively sane compared to life under the Kims.

Besides, once the border opens, I’d expect any North Korean with smarts to get the heck outta there. It won’t be a brain drain, it’ll be a brain mass migration.

They won’t surrender on those terms!

:confused: The North already has an abundance of cheap labor, doesn’t it? Are you imagining Southies flooding north to work in the ex-NK? Why would they? Or are you imagining foreign labor? North Koreans wouldn’t like that!

I’m talking about established organizations putting together what essentially amounts to reconstruction efforts in the North. Right now NK doesn’t lack cheap labor, but rather the political structure and measure of economic liberalism required for a modern economy. If a united liberalized SK style government suddenly emerged, they’d have everything they need to modernize NKs economy.

Basically, I’m imagining Southies flooding the north with business investment. Of course Southies wouldn’t flood the north looking for individual jobs.

In this hypothetical, north and south Korea don’t exist! It’s a united country with lots of educated people from the south, and lots of cheap labor from the north. It would be a remarkably attractive place for foreign investment.

That’s possible. I’d guess that in a unified Korea, there would be labor gaps in the ex-NK that could be filled by educated people from the South or elsewhere. For example, they’ll probably need Network Engineers to wire the countryside for Internet access. Also, people who have money might want to invest in newly free businesses or speculate on NK land.

Remember the US’s Carpetbaggers? They were Northerners who traveled to the newly Free South with dollar signs in their eyes.

And when they got there, they aroused no end of resentment among the locals. Any way to avoid that here?

Hard to say. The Carpetbaggers were both good and bad. As a group they helped revuild the shattered southern economy. But they also helped create corrupt governments. (Vicksburg is an interesting case in point, where newly-freed slaves proved as eager for tyranny as their former masters.) Likewise, the rejoining of Germany was good, but handled badly, and much resentment still exists between east and west.

I’d say that some wil definitely exist - it’s almost inevitable. With sound economic management, though, it can be relegated to a small role in events.